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Reflections

September 16, 2010

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You know, reading without any restrictions worked for me for awhile, but within a week or two I was longing for a little more direction. While I of course always read for pleasure and entertainment, I also read to learn, to explore, to be challenged, and this means that sometimes I stick with a book that’s not perfect for me because I’m still getting something out of it. But when trying to read solely for fun, it became impossible to force myself to keep reading a book that was driving me a bit nuts (I also became very aware of my reading pet peeves, which I’ll share at some point). So this confirmed for me that I prefer more structure in my reading: I’ve always joined so many challenges and set myself goals assuming it really would enrich my experience, so it’s nice to have that affirmation!

That being said, I also read more pre-2000 books when I had the choices all to myself (it ended up being about 50/50, with the balance tipped towards the older ones). A few months ago, I was looking at when the books I’ve read were published, and I was shocked by how many of them came from this decade! So now I want to keep that in mind, and I plan to read as many pre-2000 books as I do post-ones. This includes classics, of course, but also just books published from the 80s and 90s (when I was too young to be aware of them). Basically, I’m just trying to read the older books a new-to-me author has published first, rather than being seduced by their latest release. ;)

I also experienced a big shift in how I approach a new book: in the past, I opened a new book with the assumption that I’d be reading it to the end, and it took quite a bit for me to abandon it. Now, I open a new book and give it about ten pages to ‘prove’ itself to me; before that, I assume I’ll just be sending it back to the library. It’s rather like I’ve gone from assuming the books are innocent (and thus, the responsibility is on me, the reader, to stick with it until I’m about to scream) to assuming the books are guilty (and thus, the responsibility is on the book to get me to commit), which has made it quite easy for me to say to myself: “Hmmm…this book isn’t what I thought it would be, so let’s just pop it in the return stack.” This means that, even when I end up having complaints about a book I’ve finished, I’ve still enjoyed the reading experience itself. It’s definitely been my biggest take away from the whole thing: it turns out, I can tell within just a few pages if an author’s writing style is going to mesh with my reading one. And rather than be so attached to my mental idea of the book, which was of course wonderful since I requested it from the library, I can see that the reality isn’t working and return it before I feel invested. While this sounds simple, it’s definitely made reading more fun!

Do you prefer more structure or whim in your reading choices? And when you open a new book, do you assume you’ll finish it?

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87 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 12:55 pm

    I read on whim eva ,never follow a struture ,i like choosing book from book i tend to go with how I feel to what i read ,I always finish a book last time i didn’t was over a year ago and that was first in years ,was kindly one by littell just didn’t have time to put into the book to read it ,all the best stu

    • September 18, 2010 9:14 pm

      Interesting! I include whim, in that I never force myself to read a certain book next, but since I get most of my books from the library there’s a certain ‘structure’ to which ones I request. :) (Of course, I also will request books just because they sound good, so it’s not all structured!)

  2. September 16, 2010 1:03 pm

    I used to insist on finishing every book I started, but now I try to exercise more judgment. Although I do not assume the book is “guilty”, if after 20-50 pages I don’t feel like continuing I do a little dialog with myself about whether or not to read on. The author may be brilliant and gifted and probably knows more than I do, but he or she does not know me.

    • September 18, 2010 9:15 pm

      I agree: sometimes I can see why an author is admired, but it just doesn’t click with me. I used to feel obligated to try to ‘get’ it, but now I’ve stopped feeling so guilty.

  3. September 16, 2010 1:11 pm

    First of all, I LOVE the picture — I miss the paper card catalog sometimes. I use to read from whim to whim, but my reading speed cannot keep up with my whims, which has resulted in a whole bookcase of unread books. So now I read “whimsically” within a structure. I usually pick about 15-25 books from the TBR as my monthly stack and then from that stack read as the mood moves me (trust me, there’s plenty of variety!). Any book I don’t get to will either go back on the shelf or roll over to the next month depending on how badly I wanted to get to it. As for approaching a new title, I do tend to think I’ll finish a book when I pick it up, but I no longer force myself to. After a few chapters, if it’s not clicking, I move on to the next one. Life’s too short to read bad books! :)

    • September 18, 2010 9:16 pm

      I REALLY want to find some old card catalogue in an antique store and bring it home to live with me. :) I have the same kind of whimsical structure as you! Glad I’m not the only one! (BTW, your blog comes up as ‘marked private,’ just in case you don’t mean for it to appear that way.)

  4. September 16, 2010 1:19 pm

    I think I prefer reading without structure – that’s part of why I don’t do many tours these days. I do assume I’ll finish a book – it’s rare that I don’t. That’s something I really need to work on.

    • September 18, 2010 9:18 pm

      I quit the whole ARC/review copy thing because I hate feeling I have to read a book on a deadline! So I understand that. :)

  5. September 16, 2010 1:26 pm

    I started reading in a “structured” way when I began blogging and doing reading challenges. I do very few challenges these days, but I still have goals because I like reading different types of books. Goal-setting and a handy spreadsheet help me do that. But one of my reading goals is to make sure a certain number of my reads are spontaneous choices. So I have a structured approach to unstructured reading … now that I think about it, that’s bizarre.

    Ah well, it works for me :)

    • September 18, 2010 9:18 pm

      Hehe: as long as it works for you! Even when I’m reading for challenges, I have quite a bit of choice built in since I make big possible lists, but I also make sure to do completely random reading too. :)

  6. September 16, 2010 1:26 pm

    My reading tends to be a little bit structured, a little bit mood-dependent. I tend to finish a book once I’ve started it since I assume that if I’ve chosen to read it, it’s probably going to be worth my while. And, because even if I hate it, I still get the pleasure of ripping it apart in a review (horrible habit, I know!). ;)

    • September 18, 2010 9:18 pm

      I don’t think that’s a horrible habit! :)

  7. September 16, 2010 1:29 pm

    I’m a whim reader. When I try to put books in some sort of order and then read them in that prescribed way, I get frustrated and feel overwhelmed. I usually (It depends on the book. If it’s sad/depressing, I’ll try to find something more uplifting for my next read.) don’t think of the next book I’m going to read until I finish the current one. Then it’s like a little treasure hunt looking through the pile for the next one.

    Do I assume I’ll finish every book? No. I try but if a book just isn’t cutting it for me, I leave it. I used to feel guilty about it but then I stopped. I can’t love everything I read and sometimes authors that others love don’t work for me.

    • September 18, 2010 9:20 pm

      I wouldn’t enjoy reading books in a pre-arranged order either! My structure comes more from wanting to meet certain goals (i.e.: reading POC authors, reading older books, reading international stuff, reading certain nonfiction topics, etc.). :)

  8. September 16, 2010 1:55 pm

    I have found that I don’t do well with lots of deadlines and what feels to me like structure that is way too tight. I do like to read on a whim and I never assume I’ll finish a book these days. Happily, I do finish most, but sometimes I just set it aside and pick it up again another time. Sometimes it work, sometimes not. I have to watch out for and limit how many “real life” or “literary” or “non-happy ending” books I read in a row. Too despressing. I end up needing to read a mystery with a “nice little murder” or something like that. LOL

    Oh, and I do have a 50-ish page rule. If it doesn’t grab by then – out it goes.

    • September 18, 2010 9:21 pm

      I don’t do well with tight deadlines either! (I think part of why I enjoy challenges is that I don’t freak out if I don’t quite meet the goals, hehe)

      I definitely have to interspace my ‘comfort’ books (mysteries, ‘quiet’ classics, etc.) with the more challenging ones or I get depressed too!

  9. September 16, 2010 2:00 pm

    I assume I’m going to finish most of my books, but I (mostly) don’t stress about not finishing them, because I always also assume that I’ll go back to them. This is maybe an erroneous assumption, but it lets me abandon books without guilt or even much reluctance. Which is nice!

    • September 18, 2010 9:21 pm

      Sometimes I assume I’ll get back around to a book I’ve given up on too! :)

  10. September 16, 2010 2:12 pm

    It’s funny, I know lots of people who, like you, used to assume they would finish all books but have now reversed that position—but I’ve actually gone in the other direction! I used to abandon far more books than I do now. But it’s not because I’ve started pushing myself to finish books I’m not enjoying; it’s just that now I have such a large and mostly-reliable network of recommendations and beloved authors that I very seldom start a book that I end up hating. Of course it still happens occasionally, and when it does I usually don’t finish unless I’ve committed for a group read or a tour or something.

    Like Marieke, I like to strike a balance between structure and whims – I like goals and lists and such, but I also try to give myself the flexibility to throw all that out the window if it doesn’t work with my current mood. :-)

    • September 18, 2010 9:23 pm

      That’s good you’ve gotten better at finding the books you’ll love! I think that’s why I’ve started doing the 10 page ‘try out,’ because I can usually tell right away if a book’s going to click with me or not. But at the same time, I still want to take risks, so that lets me do it in a less time-wasting manner. :)

  11. September 16, 2010 2:16 pm

    I’m usually a fairly structured reader, but I did take a more leisurely approach to reading in July and August this year and it was quite restorative. As for reading through; some books are intended for browsing, but if I’ve specifically targeted a book to read I nearly always end up finishing. I can’t help it! Because they’re good ones to start with.

    • September 18, 2010 9:24 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoys some structure! I think I’m less picky when picking a book to give a shot, and thus I have to abandon a few more along the way. Does that make sense?

  12. September 16, 2010 2:34 pm

    I try to finish books, but if I find myself avoiding reading because I don’t want to go back to the book I know it is time to move on. I am far more open to dipping into books (for example, a collection of essays) and not feeling as if I need to finish the entire thing or even read it in order.

    • September 18, 2010 9:32 pm

      The abandonment thing is when I usually realise I should abandon a book too! (Versus reading first few pages and knowing it’s not for me.)

      I’ve tried to take more of a dipping approach to essay and short story collections too.

  13. September 16, 2010 2:41 pm

    When I was in school, I despised being told what and how fast to read. Then I graduated and became a lazy reader. As soon as I started my blog, I realized just how helpful the structure is for staying on target. It’s not about blogging so much as it is about meeting your personal goals, and by blogging I have something to keep me consistent.

    • September 18, 2010 9:32 pm

      I agree with this whole comment! :)

  14. September 16, 2010 2:49 pm

    The whole experiment sounds like it has been more than worth it – not only because you got to read what you wanted for a bit and get out of a slump, but also because you’ve learned some things about your reading tastes. I wish I could get better at abandoning a book… I WILL get there, eventually.

    • September 18, 2010 9:33 pm

      It’s definitely been worth it! Pretty much confirmed my reading tastes, which is nice to know. :)

  15. September 16, 2010 3:35 pm

    I do not do structure. In fact, I’m so unstructured I use random.org to pick the next book to read off my TBR shelf. The most structure I’ve had lately was to reread a Harry Potter book every couple books until I finished the series.

    I do, however, assume I’m going to finish any book I start. I very very rarely leave a book partly read. Sometimes it’s because I can’t give up hope that it will get better at some point, and other times it’s because I’ve put so much time and effort in the book, I want to at least see it through. That said, there are some books that aren’t worth seeing through and I need to learn to put those aside.

    • September 18, 2010 9:33 pm

      Interesting! Does your TBR shelf impose a certain amount of structure, or not so much?

  16. September 16, 2010 3:39 pm

    You know, I’m not even sure what I prefer anymore. Homeschooling sets so much of my reading…and I just don’t have a lot of choice there. But were I suddenly to lose all that structure and just be left *totally* on my own, I’m not quite sure how I would handle it anymore. I suspect I might just start joining tons of reading challenges again just add a bit of structure. Then again, maybe I’d find that freedom is something to be cherished in my reading. Yeah, all this babbling just to say, I just don’t freakin’ know! But I think it’s really cool that you were able to learn some things about your own reading during your little “experiment.” :)

    • September 18, 2010 9:34 pm

      I think that makes perfect sense Debi! When I was in college, my fun reading was pretty unstructured. :)

  17. September 16, 2010 3:51 pm

    I don’t suppose I’m terribly structured in my approach. One book generally leads to another but such reading adventures aren’t pre-planned – indeed, it’s very difficult for me to plan any reading in advance because of how my reading mood shifts. I’ve discovered that I’m no good at challenges for this very reason. Outside of reading for school, I’ve always been very ready to abandon any books that didn’t hold my interest – with so many books to read and reread why waste time on ones that don’t engage me?

    • September 18, 2010 9:35 pm

      Yay for guiltless abandoning! I’ve noticed this year that the challenges I joined that aren’t really things I’m interested in (like, the one that involves reading books w/ a colour in the title) aren’t working out so well. But most of the challenges I join reflect my deeper passions/goals, and so I don’t have a problem finishing up those.

  18. September 16, 2010 4:44 pm

    Structured unstructure … or would it be unstructured structure? Not sure how to describe it because there is a bit of both going on. I’ve usually got a batch of books selected out of a larger group and then read those at whim. Of course, if that’s not working I might send them all back to the pile and select a new batch. Or I might send them all back to the pile, go to the library and see what strikes my fancy and bring some books home with me. LOL — I wonder what this says about my Myers Briggs personality type?!

    • September 18, 2010 9:36 pm

      I do the same thing, since I read most of my books from the library! lol (Just think of the library as your TBR pile.) I think library books are easier to abandon too, because there’s no thought of ‘But I spent money on this,’ and I know I can always check it out again if I feel like it.

  19. September 16, 2010 4:46 pm

    I forgot to add that the above is probably why I usually only commit to challenges that let me read just one book to complete the challenge. You never know when the “whimsical” side will take over!

  20. September 16, 2010 5:18 pm

    I always assume I’ll finish whatever I start, so I take it personally when I end up abandoning a book. Ihate doing so, but I know it’s better than sticking with something that’s going to frustrate the hell out of me.

    As far as structure goes, I’m on the fence. I think I like the idea of planned reading more than I like the thing itself. I have a marvelous time putting together book lists and planning themed explorations, but I usually end up abandoning them in favour of an I’m-gonna-just-go-read-whatever-I-feel-like approach.

    • September 18, 2010 9:38 pm

      I used to feel similarly about abandoning books…as if I had been conquered or something. lol

      I think planning reading and putting together book lists is such a pleasure, separate from reading itself. :D

  21. September 16, 2010 5:36 pm

    I do a little of both. I have some structure but allow for whims. I have planned reading lists but I leave room for that book I need to read now.
    I never assume I’ll finish a book. I take some time to decide if I need to move on. I stopped feeling guilty a long time ago. Life is too short to spend time reading a book I don’t like.

    • September 18, 2010 9:38 pm

      Sounds like we have a similar approach! :)

  22. September 16, 2010 5:48 pm

    I think that I’m guilty of reading on whim, but my whims change so frequently that I never know what direction it’s going to take me. I have tried over the past couple of months pulling what books I’d like to read during the up and coming month. I’ve stuck with it, mostly. October I have my “halloweeny” books.

    I have thought about working toward becoming a more conscientious reader. For example, I’d like to understand more of the tribulations of the Middle East. I know, unless I join a challenge though, that I’ll stray.

    • September 18, 2010 9:39 pm

      I think that’s part of why I found reading completely without structure last month challenging: my whims change frequently too!

      Let me know if you want any Middle East recs. :)

  23. September 16, 2010 6:00 pm

    Isn’t wonderful when you get confirmation that what you’ve been doing is really what works for you and that you’re not just doing because that’s how you’ve always done it?

    I tend to read what I feel at the time to an extent, although I do have a certain structure as I have to read what comes in from the library when it comes. I often just request books and pick them up from my holds shelf so there’s obviously some things I can’t control there, how long I have to wait for a book, what order I’ll get them in etc but from there if I have a big stack I’ll pick what I’m feeling like. It’s worked well so far for me!

    • September 18, 2010 9:40 pm

      Yep: that confirmation is lovely! :)

      I’m a big library user too, so I know what you’re talking about w/ holds. Sometimes, I find a book waiting for me that I can’t even remember requesting! lol

  24. September 16, 2010 6:21 pm

    I like to have a mix of whim and structure. I set some goals and make some plans but leave enough flexibility that I can pick up something unplanned for a group read I decide to spontaneously join or just because I feel like it.

    I really like your “guilty until proven readable” philosophy. I’ve been trying to hold myself to that more by thinking of the 1st chapter/10 pages as an audition in which I decide whether to read the book. If I get past that point, I’m committed to at least 50 pages. So far, I’m not having much luck with that approach–I’ve yet to decide not to read something I picked up. I am, however, getting better at abandoning. I used to have to actively dislike a book to give up on it; now I’ll give up if I’m not actively enjoying it.

    • September 18, 2010 9:41 pm

      I like the mix too! :)

      Ok, I LOVE the idea of a book audition: much better than my legal analogy! Maybe it’s a good thing that you’ve yet to decide to put a book down after 10 pages?

  25. September 16, 2010 9:13 pm

    I read on a whim. That whim is usually determined by how I felt about the book I just finished. 99% of the time, I pick up a book with the intent to finish it. I also keep a different book on my Kindle/iPod. So, I am a two at a time reading sort of gal.

    • September 18, 2010 9:42 pm

      So we’re kind of opposites. hehe :)

  26. September 16, 2010 9:40 pm

    It’s a little of both for me. I used to always read on a whim. This year my reading has definitely gotten more structured, thanks to all the challenges I joined! I have shelf dedicated solely to a TBR pile that I want to get to sometime this year, and then I read on a whim from that selection. Sometimes that pile will get cast aside immediately if there’s a book I’m dying to read that just came out (the world stopped for me when I bought Freedom!), or when a library book I’ve requested comes in. Lately my reading has been extremely structured because of reviews I’ve promised to write, but it’s not usually so intense.

    • September 18, 2010 9:43 pm

      I totally cast my structure aside if a book pulls me in too!

      I hate feeling obligated to read/post about a book on a certain date, which is why I almost never accept ARCs/review copies: so I can’t handle that kind of structure.

  27. September 17, 2010 2:16 am

    I am all about the whim but would like to put some more structure into things. I’d really like to be disciplined enough to pick one subject and read lots about it so that I could gain a decent knowledge base about it.

    I’m always amazed by people who can tell straight off if a book is going to gel with them or not. It takes me quite a while to settle into concentration land (at least 20 pages in most case) and really get into a new bookish world. If I applied the 50 pages rule many do I think I’d sling a lot of good with the bad. But when they come from the library it’s differnet, because you can always try again if you have regrets – the books will wait.

    • September 18, 2010 9:45 pm

      I want to do some more in-depth reading too! This year, I happen to have done that with Islam. :)

      I can’t always tell if I’ll LOVE a book straight away, but I can tell if I’m going to hate it. Does that make sense? So those are the ones I weed out in that first reading. I’ve definitely stuck it out with books that I felt had value, even if I didn’t click with them straight away.

  28. September 17, 2010 4:03 am

    I read in whim even when I’m trying to follow a structure. :) I read many pre-2000 this year and thought it was a much richer experience than chasing the new publications, which not all of them are good read. A lot of old books read like contemporary. if the book is good, it is timeless. ;)

    • September 18, 2010 9:46 pm

      Agreed re: timeless books! And lol: I have a kind of whimsy-within-structure reading approach too. I like having overarching goals that I can achieve via a variety of books. :)

  29. September 17, 2010 4:29 am

    I go for structure and whim–I can never read the same genre twice in a row and I usually only read off my reading list, but other than that, I read them in whatever order fancy strikes me. I assume I’ll finish every book I begin to read, unless the author offends me personally.

    • September 18, 2010 9:47 pm

      I tend to vary up genres too! And I like having the freedom to choose whichever book I want next based on my mood. :)

  30. September 17, 2010 5:50 am

    I normally do finish what I start. I am a sucker, I know. I am going the opposite way to you though. I am abandoning any structure and just reading what I feel like reading .

    • September 18, 2010 9:47 pm

      I don’t think you’re a sucker at all!

  31. September 17, 2010 8:26 am

    I found this year that I’m choosing titles that I feel I should be reading because I said I would rather than following a natural course. So I think I may step back and try and return to how I used to read. For example, I’m reading China Mieville’s The City & The City (which is brilliant so far) and afterwards, instead of turning to the next book on my list, I may try and read Viriconium by M. John Harrisson which Mieville said was one of the books that influenced the writing of the book. I often switch between genres so that I don’t fed up, but maybe I should follow my instincts more. Just a thought.

    • September 18, 2010 9:48 pm

      I definitely think it’s possible to go too far towards the structure aspect! I like to follow my instincts too, which is part of why I’ve become more willing to admit when a book isn’t working for me, even though it sounds perfect on paper.

  32. September 17, 2010 8:36 am

    As you know, I’m a totally whimsical reader. Every so often I may plan out my next two or three reads if I need to have reviews written in a timely fashion or something like that, but generally I like my reading to be as unstructured as possible and see where things take me. What’s really fun is that I notice certain overarching themes that randomly crop up across reads that almost make it seem like I’m reading thematically! It’s always funny when a book picked up at random so strongly echos one I’ve just finished.

    As for your second question, I do generally assume I’ll finish a book when I pick it up, and generally speaking I abandon very few books. This year I’ve tried to be a lot better about picking up books I think I will enjoy, and a cursory glance at my ratings this year suggests I have by and large avoided big duds. If a book is really not working for me, I will drop it, but in many cases I tend to assume that the timing wasn’t right and I may pick it up again in the future.

    • September 18, 2010 9:50 pm

      Organic reading themes are so fun! :D

      There are definitely books I abandon that I plan on retrying some time later!

  33. Erin permalink
    September 17, 2010 8:57 am

    Great post — you’ve given me lots to think about! It’s always fascinating to get a glimpse into someone else’s reading process.

    It’s very hard for me to structure my reading. If I’m supposed to be reviewing a book, I can prioritize, but that’s about it.

    Before a book even makes it onto my reading list (which only exists in my head and on my shelves!), I read the first few pages to see if the writing AND the story catch my attention. If so, onto the list it goes. Then, from the pool of books I always have on my radar, I pick my next book. I often get frustrated by how long it takes me to settle on a book. I’ll start one and, though I know I want to read it eventually, it just won’t fit with my mood and/or attention level at that moment. So, I’ll put it back on the shelf and choose another until I find one that fits.

    Some books that originally seemed like good candidates end up getting abandoned. If I’m not hooked by page 50, the only way I’ll finish it is if I have some obligation to do so. Otherwise, my philosophy is that life is too short (and time is too limited) to read books I don’t love!

    I really need to get better about this. I must learn some discipline! I think maybe I should try a challenge or join a book club or something. I might do okay reading one book of my choosing and another for something more structured. I’ll have to give it a try!

    • September 18, 2010 9:51 pm

      Thanks Erin! I think I’m going to have to do a follow-up post on what I mean by structure. lol

      Sometimes, I’ll use Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature to read the first few pages of a book and decide if it should be on my ‘list’ too; I need to get into the habit of doing that regularly! It would save me having to lug library books back and forth. ;)

      • Erin permalink
        September 19, 2010 9:51 am

        I think that would be very interesting! To me, “structure” means pretty much anything beyond finishing one book and then choosing a new one.

        I like the idea of using Amazon’s “look inside” feature. That would make “screening” books so much easier!

  34. September 17, 2010 10:19 am

    My formal education as an English Lit major was so structured that I have tended more toward whim in recent years. And as an English major, you had to finish the book to get the grade, so though it took me a while to realize I could, I like having the freedom to abandon a book that doesn’t meet my expectations or isn’t worth my time.

    • September 18, 2010 9:52 pm

      I can imagine studying literature is v different from reading it for fun! I’d probably be more whimsical too. :)

  35. September 17, 2010 1:31 pm

    I’m more of an on-a-whim reader. I like the idea of structuring myself, and I often set up reading schedules and systems at the start of a new season, but I find I rarely stick to the plan.

    As to the second question, no, I don’t assume I’ll finish every book I pick up. Sometimes, I set a book aside because I realize it’s just not my style. Often times, though, I feel like I’m reading a great book at the wrong time, so I set it aside with the thought that perhaps I’ll try it again in a year or two.

    • September 18, 2010 9:54 pm

      I don’t do as well with temporal schedules/rigid systems as with overarching goals. I haven’t done that great at read-a-longs, for instance!

  36. September 17, 2010 5:40 pm

    I guess the challenges give me a little structure, but I mainly operate on whim. I love to look back on a year’s reading and see what books blew into my life unexpectedly.

  37. September 17, 2010 7:08 pm

    I’ll admit that when I open a book, I know without a doubt that I will read it to the end. I just *can’t* give up on a book because even when I totally dislike a novel, there is always something I can take away with me that will help me be a better reader or a better person.

    I think I like having less direction in my reading. I have too many OCD tendencies to work with challenges well, and I end up stressing over challenge completions versus enjoying the novel of the moment.

    In other words, it sounds like we are complete opposites when it comes to reading! ;)

    • September 18, 2010 9:57 pm

      Interesting! If I don’t abandon a book that’s driving me crazy, I end up loathing it, which I don’t like. (Or I speed read through it, which I don’t find that enjoyable.)

      So yes: we are opposites! But we both love reading, which is far more important. ;)

  38. September 18, 2010 4:48 am

    I can’t seem to decide which I prefer. I think part of my problem is that I get a bit overwhelmed with the number of unread books that I have, so I need some idea of what to read next in order to decide. I’ve been doing a more structured approach for two months now and I’m astonished to see that it’s really working out for me. I read more evenly, I’m excited about what’s in my immediate pile, and I can get what I want read more easily. It hasn’t worked before, so I don’t know why it is now, but I’m happy about it!

    I’ve also been trying to read more older books; I do like new releases and recently nominated award winners and the like, but I’ve been trying to catch up on several authors’ backlogs and such.

    I don’t really give up on books; I find it easier if they’re library books, because if I paid for a book or I’m reviewing a book I generally feel obligated to read it to the end. But in those scenarios, I usually choose books I know I’ll like and take more chances with the library, so it’s not too bad. =)

    • September 18, 2010 9:58 pm

      So we did opposite things and both ended up at a place enjoying some structure! Fun. :)

      I agree it’s easier to give up on library books: less investment, lol.

  39. September 18, 2010 5:43 am

    I like a mixture of whim and structure, which is probably why I like to enter challenges. What I don’t like so much is deadlines– the need to read a book by a certain date. One reason I don’t use my library as much as I should.

    I found it very liberating when I reached the point (years ago) at which I could easily abandon books. I do often give books a second chance — especially if I recognize that the problem is my mood rather than the quality of the writing or the plot line.

    I like to read a mix of old and new — so many books I missed when they first came out.

    • September 18, 2010 9:59 pm

      I find deadlines a bit tiresome too, but since I tend to read older/more obscure books, I can almost always renew one from the library, so I don’t feel too pressured by library dates!

      I like to give books (or authors) second chances as well, if I think it’s justme being cranky. ;)

  40. September 18, 2010 5:49 pm

    I have never done much structured reading (unless for a class) and I think I prefer to keep it that way, though I am curious to try more structured reading on my own some time. I’m not very good at abandoning books that aren’t working for me, but am getting better at it. I’m also pretty good at judging whether or not a book is for me in the first place though (i.e. maybe I’m not so adventurous with my reading anymore?) so it doesn’t come up for me very often.

    • September 18, 2010 10:00 pm

      I find books that appeal to me on paper sometimes don’t work when I actually open them up, so that’s where the 10 page thing comes in handy. But I wish I was better at automatically knowing which books would work for me: it’d save time!

  41. September 18, 2010 6:43 pm

    First off, I love the picture of the card catalog. I kind of miss those days. You might be too young to remember them.

    I pretty much hate structure. The only rule I adhere to is Nancy Pearl’s rule of 50. If I am still having trouble with a book by page 50 I can chuck it. I know what you mean about knowing about a book within 10 pages, but I also know that if I bailed on books at page 10 I would miss a lot of things that I have really ended up liking.

    I enjoyed reading about you changing up the way you approach things. I like the personal touch in blog.

    • September 18, 2010 10:02 pm

      Our college library still had its old card catalogues, although they weren’t functional any more, and I enjoyed flipping through them sometimes. :)

      I only bail on books w/in 10 pages that are making my hackles rise…if I just feel a bit ‘meh’ about it, I’ll keep going to see if it’s just a slow starter.

  42. September 19, 2010 6:23 am

    Even though I have been burned a few times, I still assume I am going to finish a book when I begin. Regarding structure, I tend to read books for either book clubs or challenges. For book clubs, I find that I have a higher chance of not liking the book then when I pick it myself.

    • September 19, 2010 8:15 pm

      I tried out a book club like a year and a half ago, and I couldn’t stand the book selection! And then all of the members liked it, and I felt like the upstart newcomer, and I never went back. Ah well.

  43. September 20, 2010 2:12 am

    I like a bit of both, being able to choose from books I already wanted to read and other times ones that are recent recommendations. And I’m very bad at not finishing a book even if I really don’t like it because I feel that it’s good to have the experience – I know, of course, that you can get just as good experience and information (like you I often read to learn) from books while enjoying them, I just got myself into this one book at a time thing, ’til end page we part. Ten pages however sounds a good idea, I might try it in future.

  44. September 20, 2010 5:55 pm

    You know, I do assume I’ll finish a book when I begin it. I assume it will be a winner. But I have found that it’s okay to give up. This summer I’ve given up on both classics (a Camus novel) and a modern fiction novel (Little Bee). But I am more inclined to give up on the modern fiction sooner than the older stuff. I guess I figure if a harder-to-read book stayed around for a hundred years there is a reason even if I don’t particularly like it at first…

  45. September 26, 2010 3:06 pm

    I spent this month reading out of my bookshelves – that is read without any pressure, just pick something out of my shelf and read. How hard can that be?

    Really hard, because, well, I’ve been on the same two books for a week now, and I’m getting irritated. Both are books I’m enjoying but I just can’t seem to improve my pace. I read better with a structure. I think knowing what I should read next helps me. A month is just too long to read according to my whim. Bummer, really!

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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